Passion, Belief, Support

Written by Terence Tan

Hidden in the eastern corner of our little red dot, the APEX Harmony Lodge is Singapore’s first dementia home founded in 1999. Its founder, 104-year-old Dr. Oon Chiew Seng, was recently awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

As one of the country’s first obstetricians and gynaecologists, Dr. Oon’s lifelong commitment in the medical profession and contribution to public service was acknowledged by the institution. On 12 January, NUS Chancellor, President Halimah Yacob, presented Dr. Oon with the Honorary Degree in an official ceremony held at the University Cultural Centre. Professor Chong Yap Seng, Dean of NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, and Professor Tan Eng Chye, President of NUS, also commended Dr. Oon for being an inspirational figure for all to aspire towards.

While Dr. Oon personally accepted the award, her speech was delivered on her behalf by her nephew, Dr. Oon Chong Hau. In her speech to the graduates from NUS’ Class of 2020, she challenged them to be resilient individuals, reminding them that there is “no education like adversity”, quoting former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

Despite having received many awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ministry of Health in 2011, and the President’s Special Recognition Award in 2013. Dr. Oon still believes that life “is a journey” that should “[be] completed in [one’s] own time and pace”. In a previous interview, she shared her philosophy for success, quipping that, “at my age, I can only remember three things at a time! For me, the three factors are passion, belief and support”.

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